CONWAY — While it wasn’t the spring any of us envisioned — one with no games played due to the COVID-19 pandemic — the Kennett High School Athletic Department did its best to try to bring some normalcy for the student-athletes.
Coaches and athletes met remotely over the internet with the Eagles practicing and working out apart from other teammates all spring.
The season wrapped up recently with the presentation of awards from the coaching staff and Athletic Director Neal Weaver.
“Of course, we would have all rather played this spring, I commend the coaches and the athletes for their commitment to each other and their sports,” said Weaver by phone on Thursday.
This year's athletic award winners were:
The Jack Burns Memorial Baseball Award was presented by Coach Josh McAllister to senior Zach Smith, while the fourth annual David "Doc" Walker 10th Player Baseball Award, presented by bullpen guru Doc Walker, went to senior Dominic Jones.
In softball, new Coach Chris Kroski selected senior Jessica Noyes to receive the Softball Award.
The Boys Tennis Award went to senior Jack Wheeler, who was chosen by Coach Jason Cicero.
Coach Duncan Yarmouth selected junior Alexis Gunn to receive the Girls Tennis Award.
In Lacrosse, seniors Trevor LaRusso and Reilly Murphy received the KHS Lacrosse Award from Coach Steve Graustein.
In what was to have been the first season as a New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association recognized varsity program for KHS girl’s lacrosse, new coach, Jennifer Laine, presented the Eagle Award to sophomores Cassandra Irish and Jordan Meier.
In Track, Coach Bernie Livingston selected Nadia Van Dyne to receive the Track and Field Award.
The Don Trimble Track Award, presented by Livingston, went to Eva Drummond.
In other awards, this year’s Clifford Milliken Memorial Sportsmanship Award winners are Eva Drummond and Justin Olson.
Eva Drummond received the Gordon Mann Scholar-Athlete Award.
The Mark Butler Memorial Award, presented annually to underclassmen, went to sophomore Grace Murphy and freshman Kyle Stearns.
The George T. Davison Award went to Dominic Jones.
Senior Grace Castonguay was names the New Hampshire winner of the New Hampshire Athletic Directors Association/New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s essay contest winner. Grace, who lives in Jackson, was selected as the Division II essay winner and then was awarded overall honors for the state.
As the Division II winner, Grace received a $500 scholarship.
The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Executive Director Jeffrey Collins announced on the NHIAA website on April 16 on the heels of Gov. Chris Sununu announcing remote learning was extended beyond the planned date of May 4 to the end of this school year that spring sports were officially canceled.
“In response to the recent Executive Order by Gov. Chris Sununu to continue remote instruction in New Hampshire schools throughout the remainder of the school year, the NHIAA Council has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 spring sports season and championships,” NHIAA Executive Director Jeffrey Collins stated. “This decision was not made lightly given what athletics mean to the participants, parents and communities across the state.”
The NHIAA had targeted May 3 as the first date for high schools to practice with May 13 as the first date to play games. That was the hope as Gov. Sununu had targeted May 3 as the end of remote learning but with the COVID-19 virus so prevalent he could not risk the safety of students and staff to return to the classroom.
“While we hoped to salvage some portion of the spring season, the fact that schools will not reopen their doors to students this year and the uncertainty surrounding when or if social distancing guidelines will be lifted has made us face the stark reality that playing high school sports this spring is simply not an option,” Collins wrote. “Rather, our focus in these most uncertain times must be to do everything we can to protect people from the pandemic and not contribute to the numbers who fall victim to the disease.
He added: “We recognize and share in the pain and heartbreak this decision will cause to all student-athletes this spring, particularly the seniors. Having said this, it is our sincere hope that the actions taken today, along with the Governor’s orders and (Department of Health and Human Services) guidelines designed to slow the spread of this global pandemic will enable schools to reopen this fall with face-to-face instruction and a full slate of athletic contests to be played and enjoyed by all.”
The NHIAA has not decided on the status of fall sports but did on Thursday announce a phased-in approach for athletes to train together (see related story).